“Arrive in” or “arrive at”?

Here’s the rule for using ‘arrive in’ and ‘arrive at’:

  • use arrive in for townscities and countries
  • use arrive at for buildings and parts of buildings.

So, using this grammar rule, we would say:

  • He arrived in London.
    (arrive in because London is a city)
  • President Obama arrived in France yesterday
    (arrive in because France is a country)
  • I arrived at the station just before the train left.
    (arrive at because a station is a building)
  • We arrived at the museum but found it was closed all day
    (arrive at because a museum is a building)
  • We arrived at Anna’s later than expected because of the traffic.
     (arrive at because Anna’s means ‘Anna’s house’ – a building)

! Be careful – we use arrive without a preposition in the following cases:

  • arrive home arrive at home
  • arrive today, arrive yesterday, etc.
  • arrive early, arrive late

Arrive on/in (with time references)

We say arrive on when we refer to a day:

  • My parents arrived on Monday.
  • Our cousins arrive on Thursday – they’re coming from Australia.

We say arrive in when we refer to a month, year or season:

  • My friends arrived in June.
  • Our family arrive in October – they’re coming for my birthday.
  • The first immigrants arrived in 1947.
  • The first migrating birds arrive in early spring.

Arrive is also used in a few phrases and idioms. I’ll look at some examples in a future post.

Stuart is an English teacher and runs the Speakspeak website. He currently lives in Prague and has been teaching for over 20 years. Follow Stuart and contact him by subscribing to his monthly newsletter.

17 Comments

  1. Benazir - February 1, 2013, 11:44 am Reply

    Hi nice to meet u I need english native daily words with sentences

  2. Benazir - February 1, 2013, 11:48 am Reply

    Thanks a lot

  3. Alan Bird - March 12, 2014, 2:30 pm Reply

    Hello,
    “Arrive into Heathrow”. I hear that and similar often, but it seems incorrect. What is the correct expression?
    Thank you

    • Stuart Cook - March 12, 2014, 8:36 pm Reply

      Hello, Alan
      Arriving at Heathrow, or alternatively flying into Heathrow.

  4. Silvia - January 2, 2015, 7:00 pm Reply

    Hello Stuart, very nice to meet you.
    I am in need to check this sentence I am using very often: it is about ‘I will arrive … (for example Heathrow airport), do I need to use at? So the sentence: I will arrive at Heathrow airport at 11.00 am.
    Is this correct?
    Thanks!

    • Stuart Cook - January 7, 2015, 8:49 pm Reply

      Hi, Silvia

      Yes, it’s correct: you need to use the preposition at:
      I will arrive at Heathrow airport at 11.00 am.
      or
      I arrive at Heathrow airport at 11.00 am.

      Nice to meet you too – thanks for visiting the site!

  5. Bharad - December 11, 2015, 3:09 pm Reply

    Someone I follow on fb just posted this:
    “I arrived on Guam.”

    Is this right? Is it because Guam is an island?

    • Stuart Cook - December 14, 2015, 6:38 pm Reply

      Yes, we can use “arrive on” when speaking about islands. And the same for planets: in the future we’ll be able to say “arrive on Mars”.

  6. Valeria - June 28, 2016, 9:11 pm Reply

    Hi, Stuart ! I’ d like to know the correct form of announcement at railway station :” the train will be arriving by 4 o’clock…” or ” the train will have arrived …”?

    • Stuart Cook - June 30, 2016, 8:17 pm Reply

      Hi, Valeria
      With the ‘timetable’ future we use the present simple, so the correct way of talking about trains is ‘The trains arrives at . . . ‘

  7. zoya khanam - August 4, 2016, 5:47 pm Reply

    Hi i want to know when we use ‘arrive ‘ with’ to ‘ for instance : he arrived to station at 2 o’clock. Plz help me

  8. Shan - September 16, 2016, 3:06 am Reply

    Hello is it ok to say
    I arrived home. (You are telling someone you reached home)
    Also is it the same as “I got home”.
    In the be careful point above you gave this eg. Arrive home
    In a sentence would it be “i arrive home”.

  9. Irene - March 31, 2017, 7:33 am Reply

    is it ok to say ‘we arrive at school late’

    • Stuart Cook - April 4, 2017, 8:04 pm Reply

      It’s more common to say “We were late for school”.

  10. Marcelo Araujo - May 3, 2017, 11:26 am Reply

    Hi Stuart,
    if I use a month plus day like the sentence I’ll arrive preposition May 8th, do i use in or at in the preposition. Thanks a lot
    Marcelo

    • Stuart Cook - May 4, 2017, 4:15 pm Reply

      Hi

      With days the preposition is usually on, although it’s also common to hear dates used without a preposition.

      In the UK we say “I arrive on the eighth of May” and we usually write I arrive on 8 May. In the US it’s common to say “I arrive May eighth” and write I arrive May 8th.

  11. Rinakkan - September 1, 2017, 6:22 am Reply

    What we use if “city’s airport (and building)” at or in ?

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